Bill Withers, the amazing singer, songwriter and musician was interviewed on Sunday. He left the spotlight by choice many years ago, but his songs – Lean On Me, Ain’t No Sunshine, Use Me, and others – have profoundly touched us and live on. In the interview, he said if was writing now, he would write about “my old friend fear and all the disguises he wears.”
His story includes working as an airplane mechanic, writing music, and taking his first album’s photo on his lunch break! That’s why he’s holding the lunch box, his lunch box that could be mistaken for him merely posing as an ordinary workingman.
But that’s exactly what he was. And that’s exactly what you are. An ordinary person trying to do something extraordinary with the skills we have to offer.
I continue to mention the idea of “simple, but not easy.” Meaning it’s a no-brainer to know where you want to go, but it’s way harder to actually take steps and get going.
We are held back time and time again. But why?
We all do this. We know what is needed, but we find all sorts of distractions or we ignore what’s in front of us. It’s called fear. It doesn’t look or feel like the fear we know, the kind that makes our skin crawl, or makes up jump out of the way of a fast moving car, or the kind that says, “Let’s get out of here, run!”
It’s the internal fear, the irrational crappy thoughts that say we will be found out, or we will be judged, or they won’t like us, or they’ll think we suck, or we are just an utter fraud. So we get stuck, and we do something else. It’s easier!
So, it’s simple to know, but not easy to walk through your fear and do what you really want to do? And it’s not going to go away – we’re wired for this. We manage fear for as long as we live; they key is that the more we recognize it, accept it, and move forward anyway; the less pushy it will become.
Most often, your fear is about the perception of how you feel, or what you do, will be received.
Jenny could not get on stage and present to her company until she realized it was more about what she had to say, and how she taught it; not what she looked or sounded like.
Tom needed to ask his family for some private time to exercise. He was away a lot and felt he didn’t deserve this time, he thought they’d be angry. And when he spoke from his heart and gave back in other ways, they were completely supportive. That conversation took him two years!
If you want something: a better day, a better job, a better life…take a step. That old friend, Fear, will come along with you. She will hold your hand and pull you back, but assure her it’s all going to be OK.